Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Uyi Igbe, says the lawmakers are more interested in giving legislative backingto the executive in order to fast-track development rather than engage in acrimony with the governor. In this interview with PATRICK OCHOGA, the speaker says they are anxious to change the face of the state.
Edo House of Assembly has been described as a rubber stamp for the executive. How do you react to that perception?
I do not think that assertion is true. We are not rubber stamps to the governor but working together with him to bring about development and change the face of the state for generations yet unborn. That is what we are doing. The truth of the matter is that if the governor of the state comes to the House of Assembly and asks us to do something that will assist in transforming the state by way of legislation; we would not hesitate to oblige him since we were elected by the people of the state for that purpose.
However, if by so doing somebody thinks that we are an extension of the governor, so be it. As long as the interest of the entire state is concerned, we have no apology to assist with legislations to move the state forward. We are going to represent the people of Edo state to the best of our ability and ensure that that the dividends of democracy get to them.
To what extent have the resolutions of the Assembly been implemented by the executive?
Yes, some time ago we did say that we were going to set up a committee to find out the extent to which the resolutions so far passed by the lawmakers had been implemented by the executive. But I want to say that a lot of them have been implemented.
We have to look at the issues and see how far we have gone since we have a good working relationship. Like I said before we are putting up a committee to look at the extent to which our resolutions have been implemented.
Let’s look at the policy thrust and focus of the house under your leadership?
As far as we are concerned, the thrust of this house is open-door policy. We want to run a policy that is transparent to the members and to the people. I think we have tried to do that successfully by making it possible for all to ask questions and get answers on what we are doing and how that affects them because we are here because of the people .
Which of the laws passed by the House do you think has really impacted well on the lives of the people?
There is no law passed by us that does not have direct impact on the people. Let us go back to the last resolution concerning cattle straying into people’s farm in Ologbo and Obayator communities. We passed a resolution that has made it possible for the amicable resolution of the crisis that nearly tore the communities apart.
That law has made it possible for cattle owners and farmers in the two communities to work together in peace. They have agreed to demarcate their grazing land from the farm areas and also agreed to brand their cattle, so that if anyone goes astray they would be able to know who owns the cattle and this is something that happened recently and has impacted on some people in the rural communities.
How best can the House intervene in the worsening security in the state?
That is where unfortunately there is a big problem because we are all aware that security issues are basically within the domain of the federal government. Although the state is doing its best to handle the situation, the security apparatus belong to the federal government and it is something that requires tact because security is not directly under the control of any state governor.
That is why the clamour for state police will not easily go away. If we had state police, the governor would have known what to do under the circumstance that we have found ourselves. But here, the police force is under the control of the Federal
The little we can do as a House is to assist the Presidency to be able to help the police to do their job better. As you can see this government has made available no fewer than 150 vehicles and communication gadgets to the police to enable them do their job well. That donation was made possible by our approval of the state appropriation for the year. Other than that, there is really little we can do as a house to curb insecurity because it is a federal issue.
Given the battle between the two leading parties-ACN and PDP in the state, what is the relationship of members of the two parties in the House of Assembly?
It has been very cordial. We have had no problem and I hope we won’t have any problem; thankfully it is not our individual election that is at stake now. We are talking about election that is for the governor of the state and I am very sure that even our colleagues in the opposition know that it is all over and they have lost.
It is not something they want to discuss about because the hand writing on the wall as far as the election is concerned, is very obvious.
People see the majority leaders, Hon. Phillip Shuaibu as the de-facto Speaker because of the influence he wields. What is your take on this?
Well, I’ve heard that before since it’s being said that he is the de-facto-speaker let him come and sit down on the red chair and hit the hammer, because I really don’t know what to say about such a thing.
Does he really influence the decision we make in the house? Decisions made in the House are decisions of the Principal Officers Council, (POC), and as much as possible the members of the house. If they are other decisions that don’t required everybody to know about then the P.O.C takes such decisions.
So when you say de-facto speaker, let him come and sit on the red chair and hit the gavel and say the I’s have it. If he fails to do that, I do not see how he can be said to be powerful and influential in this place. I do not know what that means because the purported influence he wields is totally unreal.
The majority leader has been my very good friend right from the inception of the former assembly. It may be that we are close and we discuss and share ideas that is why people are making such allusions.
With the ways things are going, do you think that the same House can have the courage to challenge the governor if he comes with an unpopular decision for the lawmakers to approve?
Oh, definitely. If something does not affect the people of the state positively we will not accept it because we are grass-roots people elected to protect the interest of the people. There is no way the state governor will bring to the house something that is not for the overall interest of the people and expect to get our support for such. It cannot happen. It is not possible under my leadership.
Of course, we know that the governor is a man of the people and has always been working for the masses and he knows what is good for his people. He cannot come with something that will not benefit the people in the first place.
But again, do not forget that we are independent arm of government and we are going to remain as such. The executive
is an independent arm and if we do not influence them, they also cannot affect us.
What has been responsible for the harmonious relationship between the executive and the legislative arm of government?
I would say that the magic is focus and hard work, more especially since we have a governor, who is prepared to work, a governor who is doing the right thing for the people and an assembly that also wants to do the right thing for the people. As you can see there is synergy because we are both thinking progressively for the betterment of Edo State.
While that remains the situation, every arm of the government is prepared to do what is right, nobody wants to go the wrong way because they are conscious of the fact that they citizens want action; they want to see development in every sector of the state.
Like I said before, since we have been working together to bring about peace, development and progress of the state, and people dub us as a rubber stamp, we would also not hesitate to differ with them if there is any reason to do so. I bet you we would, but we are working together to give our people the best.